As business professionals we like to stay in control of every situation; however there are certain circumstances that fall beyond our levels of control such as freak weather anomalies or an electricity blackout that can seriously affect how you run your business. No matter how infrequent we believe these events to be, when they do emerge many businesses fall into disarray, which is why implementing a contingency plan, which incorporates protocols to follow in these situations should be at the forefront of every companies agenda.
With power outages for example, the key factor that will affect your decision making will be the length of time the power is expected to out for. If the length of the shortage is fairly short, keeping employees in work is justifiable as long as you have health and safety precautions in place, such as emergency lighting to avoid unnecessary incidents. If the power outage is likely to last for a prolonged period of time, preventing employees from completing their work, sending staff home may be the only option. Unless you have implemented a company lay-off or short time clause stipulating a reduction in pay under these circumstances, employees are normally entitled to full pay for the hours missed.
As above, if the weather is the cause of the disruption, for example heavy snowfalls, which results in your business closing early, the pay procedures remain the same. In circumstances where the weather or power shortage prevents your business from opening entirely, implementing a notification policy and making employees aware of what this entails is an important protocol to have in place. With regards to pay, employees can be placed on temporary lay-off, contractual clause permitting, where there is at least one working day missed. Without lay-off clauses, employees are entitled to be paid for any hours they miss. Alternatively, if employees agree to it, there is the option of giving staff annual leave for the hours lost.
If, in spite of the weather you are able to resume business as usual, adopting an understanding approach towards your employees regarding lateness or the need to leave early may be useful for the purposes of good employee relations. If working from home is an option, particularly for those who travel far or by public transport, utilise it, but ensure work is being completed by remaining in regular contact with your employees.
For further advice on this issue contact my Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.